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David Larson, a professor of labor and employment law at Hamline University in St. Paul, who studied the Chicago strike, said he believes St. Paul’s union is right to think more broadly about how to serve its members and to move beyond compensation concerns to issues such as class size. But then, in doing so, the union, as the district has argued, is straying into policy areas — matters of management prerogative that potentially create a power struggle, he said.
Twenty-five years ago, George Latimer and Dan Bostrom, then just weeks from leaving office as mayor and school board chairman, respectively, played important roles in helping avert a walkout by teachers — virtually at the last minute.
A strike is a heavy affair, Bostrom said, and as the deadline approached, he leaned on the advice of a former superintendent who once told him, “Danny, you have to be sure this is the hill you want to die on.” In the end, Bostrom decided he wasn’t about to walk out of office with a district on strike.
Latimer said last week that it was too early for alarm. Neither side could be blamed for the differences, he said. In fact, he was struck by how much they agree.
But the public certainly should be concerned, he said. Latimer, too, has a granddaughter scheduled to graduate, and he doesn’t want to see her ceremony delayed.
Chicago’s schools, he said, were in crisis, struggling with more than just the achievement gap and graduation rates. Things are different here. Things are, Latimer said, better here.
“There are just a lot of good things happening in St. Paul schools,” he said.
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